LNG is gradually emerging as one of the most preferred fuels globally and is being used by numerous end-user industries. One of the major advantages of utilizing LNG as a fuel is its clean burning nature which significantly lowers emissions as compared to other fossil fuels. However, one of the major constraints of utilizing natural gas as a fuel is its efficient transportation from supply to demand centers. Currently, there is a distinct mismatch in the global natural gas scenario, with major producers exporting a bulk of their production and major consumers being heavily reliant on imports. In such a scenario, there is a rising need for LNG infrastructure across the world since transporting natural gas in liquefied form is often cheaper and most cost effective than constructing pipelines. Although large scale LNG terminals have been preferably constructed across the world till date, the emergence of small demand centers for natural gas within small geographies is gradually shifting the focus towards miniaturizing LNG infrastructure.
The two primary forms of LNG infrastructure are liquefaction terminals and regasification terminals. By a thumb rule, exporters of natural gas in the form of LNG generally require liquefaction infrastructure while importers require regasification infrastructure. With technological advancements, divergence of such liquefaction and regasification terminals on the basis of type has also been observed. Both these terminals can currently be located in both onshore as well as offshore areas. The market for offshore LNG infrastructure is mostly comprised of small scale vessels such as FSRUs and FSLUs. With rapidly growing LNG consumption, the logistical constraints of transporting natural gas from regasification terminals located at ports to distant inland demand centers are increasing rapidly. In numerous cases, it is also highly infeasible to construct inland pipelines for transporting natural gas. In such cases, small scale LNG terminals are expected to be the most preferred form of infrastructure that would be installed in order to increase the volume of natural gas consumption.
For this report, only terminals with tank sizes lesser than 200,000 cubic meters and throughputs lower than 300,000 tons per annum have been considered. The demand for small scale LNG terminals to be expected globally within the forecast period have been taken as a function of various factors such as natural gas production and consumption, presence of stranded gas assets, demand from the industrial and power generation sectors, and growth and emergence of small scale inland demand. The weightage of these factors was analyzed on a regional as well as country level in order to arrive at the possible capacity additions that can be expected in the small scale LNG market within the forecast period. According to our analysis, a strong growth would be observed in the small scale LNG liquefaction terminals market over the forecast period. With the LNG bunkering and surface transportation industries driving capacity additions for small scale liquefaction terminals, year-on-year capacity additions are likely to increase steadily until 2022.
Regionally, Europe and Asia Pacific are likely to emerge as attractive markets for small scale LNG terminals within the forecast period. Countries such as China and Norway already have significantly developed small scale LNG infrastructure. Adoption of LNG as a fuel, especially by the heavy duty vehicles segment is expected to be a major driver for small scale LNG terminal construction across numerous geographies within the forecast period. Highly environment-conscious Europe and North America are expected to lead in the global market for small scale LNG terminals that are to be utilized for LNG bunkering in the future. Numerous attractive business models by market incumbents are expected to be introduced in the future. The small scale LNG market might witness numerous M&A activities in the future with technological expertise and project management competence being critical USPs for market incumbents. Other market niches such as converting fossil fuel users to LNG fuel and natural gas powered drilling are also likely to generate strong demand for small scale LNG infrastructure within the forecast period.